Thinking about todays market, how can you make a movie from a really good script, that actually has nothing in it, that makes an audience go “well, I need to see that!”. You create a connection to something else, that previously made people curious! It is very hard to tell if this film originally had a Cloverfield connection or not. Or if it was tacked on, to attract an audience. Because this film would actually work without the name Cloverfield in its title, as a standalone movie. But it’s only fair to assume that it would have probably ended up as a direct to dvd movie instead of a theatrical release.
If you want to know something about the story, without to spoil the movie for you, it’s best to watch the trailer. It’s a seldom case where the trailer was put together really intelligent, without giving too many clues about where the story will go. In the first minutes we follow Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is leaving her fiance/boyfriend. On her way she’s having a car accident and soon wakes up in a room. There she meets Howard (John Goodman). The first impression we get from him is a little weird. We are with Michelle and ask ourselfes what exactly is going on. Soon we meet Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) and learn that we’re in a bunker, that Howard is a survivalist nut and something happened outside. But we’re never sure what exactly happened.
The movie has a really efficient structure. The buildup works great when it, every couple of minutes, throws something at you to chew on. That goes on for 85% of the movie. It’s a smart move not to overexplain everything and let the audience discover the truth along with the characters of the film. A good way to build the characters and make these connect with the audience. Which brings us to the actors of the film. All three of the main characters, Michelle, Howard and Emmett are thoroughly believable and at no point in the film fall into the usual horrormovie traps of doing stupid shit just to create tension or to move the plot forward. That’s one of the big things to appreciate in this film. No one is doing stupid stuff! A welcome thing in the horror genre these days. Every decision is relatable and smart. And all that can only work well with a strong cast and well written script by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle. Fantastic work by all of them.
Now I have a little history with Dan Trachtenberg the director of this film. By that I don’t mean ‘personal’. The first time I saw him was on a small online show called “The Totally Rad Show” in 2007. A show about Tv, Games and Movie reviews. Really enjoyed that show. Later he did a shortfilm about the game “Portal”. A very good showcase of his skills as a director and understanding of VFX. And now he made his first feature film. And it’s a really good one! It will definitely be interesting to see what’s next for him.
Even if the Cloverfield title feels a little too much like a marketing thing, I think this could work out nicely. They could do more of these kinds of films, with a loose connection to the original. We’ll see what happens there in the future I guess. In any case it’s better to have movies like these than a neverending string of Paranormal Activity found footage movies.
So if you’re a fan of a smart character driven horror story, then this movie is definitely something to check out for you. Great characters, mood and look… combined in an intelligent script that’s been nicely brought to film. I enjoyed it.